Deciphering mile posts along the tracks, part two

Johns Hopkins University Press Blog

Guest post by Richard C. Carpenter. 

Continued from Part One, posted Monday, February 24. Locomotive expert Richard C. Carpenter picks up his discussion of mile posts.

When we drive along the interstate highway system, we measure our progress by mile markers, which are placed just off the right shoulder of the roadway. Interstate standards require that they be measured from zero at the state line and run to the next state line—west to east and south to north.

Railroads have long had their mile markers, too. They are called mile posts. These mile posts are the geographical measure of a railroad line. Their zero mile post locations and their end points often tell us something about the history of the line. Mile posts allow train crews to determine their exact location along otherwise nondescript stretches of geography.

They are also referenced when numbering bridges, and used to define the limits…

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